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Old Jan 07, 2012, 01:05 PM
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United States, WA, Bothell
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Top Flite Peacemaker Control Line to RC Conversion - Build thread

"Dad built the wing. 35 years later I built the rest of it..."

Visiting my parents earlier this year, my Dad suddenly stuck his finger in the air and said something like ĎBarry, I have an idea! Follow me...í

We spent the next hour digging through his storage closet looking for an old control line airplane he had. Box after dusty box came out of that closet. Soon we found a full wing and a couple of dirty boxes of broken balsa parts. There was one box of full parts, still in pretty good shape.

Dad told me the story - he built this control line airplane just before I was born, but immediately crashed it into a thousand pieces. For some reason he kept those pieces (dusty box number 1), and then went out and bought another of the same model to try it again. He finished the wing, but then unexpectedly had twins (my sister and I), and that was the end of that. Much to my Momís angst, he kept the kit and the wing (they moved a lot after we finished high school, and Mom hated hauling that old stuff around).

Dad said Ďdo you think you could turn this into an RC airplane?í

Yikes.
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 02:01 PM
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I probably could convert it, but we both agreed that it would probably only fly once, and it would probably end up looking like dusty box number 1.

It turns out that the plane was a fullbody Top-Flite Peacemaker designed by George Aldrich. It’s a 46” control line built for .15 to .29 glow engines. A lengthy google search for others that had converted this airplane yielded next to zero results (the closest I got was a comment on a forum that said something along the lines of ‘I know someone who did this, and it flew but it definitely wasn’t a beginner model’)

Armed with absolutely no knowledge of buildling RC planes, let alone converting a control line model, I researched, researched, and when I was done I did a little more research.

Sure enough, the wing was built offset (the right wing was longer than the left). Also, the horizontal stabilizer was also offset. The original flaps were also offset to compensate for the wing lengths. Finally, the wing is incredibly big compared to the rest of the plane, and the distance between the wing and the tail is short. Not knowing anything about plane dimensions, I consulted Andy Lennon’s book, The Basics of RC Model Aircraft Design.

To this day I have no idea if I did this right, but since the distance from the wing to the tail looked short, and lengthening the fuselage was not an option, I added an inch to the horizontal stabilizers surface. According to Lennon, the distance is still too short, but adding surface area should help some. Plus it now looked a little better.

Also, the original 'flaps' needed adjusting. They were typical inboard flaps which the control line used to create or destroy lift (there were no ailerons). I needed to lengthen them and turn them into ailerons. This was a simple mod, and in the end the ailerons span the width of the wing.
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 02:02 PM
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I believe the wings of some control-line models are assymetrical due to the control wires in one wing and the need for more lift on that side to counteract their weight. So, have you checked that each wing is the same span?

Edit: I see that you have checked! But, provided you've "corrected" everything, there's no reason why it shouldn't fly with RC.
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Last edited by abenn; Jan 07, 2012 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Just beaten to the post!
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 02:09 PM
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Electronics and cutting wing slots...

The next issue was what size electronics to use - and how to mount them. Being on a budget, and knowing that it would probably only fly once (if at all), I shopped Hobby King and decided on the TURNIGY AerodriveXp SK-3530-1100kv with a 40a ESC. Amazingly, the HXT Alloy composite firewall mount fit the plans perfectly.

Once I had all the electronics, I mocked it up to determine the weight and to ID where the servos would go and how the plane would balance. The solid wood balsa siding was pretty brittle (more on this issue later), but had good shape.

Cutting the slots for the wing caused some stress, but in the end worked out pretty well.

I mounted the servos in the fuselage framework (which mostly fell apart in my hands. The glue was fairly solid, but the wood itself was dry and brittle). The fragility of the frame didnít bother me much, since the balsa siding was pretty thick and would provide structural support. In the end, I let the internal frame fall apart as much as it wanted.
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abenn View Post
I believe the wings of some control-line models are assymetrical due to the control wires in one wing and the need for more lift on that side to counteract their weight. So, have you checked that each wing is the same span?

Edit: I see that you have checked! But, provided you've "corrected" everything, there's no reason why it shouldn't fly with RC.
Yeah, there was about 1.5" difference in the span. I was surprised to see that even the horizontal stab was offset. The only reason I discovered that was because it just didn't look right when I mocked it up.
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Installing the servos and gluing up the siding...

Working the balsa siding around the frame was the most difficult part. I did it in December, and we had an unusually dry and cold month. Being in the garage, the wood was really dry. To help mold the balsa around the frame, I soaked the halves in a hot tub for an hour. Much to my surprise, the halves began to flatten out in the hot water. I quickly pulled them out, slapped some wood glue on them and wrapped the frame. I held it all together with a lot of rubber bands.


This is where is started going south. As the wood dried, it began to split. Everywhere.

Not sure what to do, I rubbed in some wet wood glue in an attempt to firm it up and stop further splitting. It kinda sorta worked.


The next day I cut the rubber bands off and I stood there with an awful looking airplane fuselage. It wasnít round, and there were cracks all up and down the sides. (I didn't take too many pictures of this, because it was really a big let down. It was ugly, I was frustrated, and I had to take a break for a while.)

On top of that, I needed to figure out where and how to cut access hatches to both the motor and the electronics. How in the world was I going to maintain structural integrity of the fuselage and the hatches?

I read somewhere that elmers wood filler worked pretty good on model airplanes, so back to the hardware store I went.

Armed with a tub of wood filler, 220, and 400 grit sandpaper, I went to work.

I filled all the cracks (after CAíing them) and began work on cutting hatches. The first hatch was the engine hatch. The issue was that the original body had a hole for the piston. On top of that, the halves went together so bad that there was no way it was ever going to look good as a hatch.

Over a few beers, Dad and I figured that we could make a new hatch out of a solid block of balsa.

Sure enough, after I cut out the hatch area from the main fuselage, a spare block I had fit perfectly!

I suddenly found myself in the balsa carving business.
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 02:49 PM
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Filling and sanding...filling and sanding

The fit wasnít perfect, but thatís what wood filler is for. Moving into the warmer kitchen, my patient wife let me spend the next week filling, sanding, filling, sanding, filling, sanding, filling, sanding.

After all that filling, I finally had a round fuselage! I never weighed it before or after, but I think itís negligible. Iím also playing ignorant on the issue.

The tail cone area needed to be built up, as well, so I filled and sanded it into shape as well.

Dust was a huge problem, and I also wanted to add some strength to the whole balsa siding, so I wiped it all down as best I could and then sealed it with a 50/50 mix of shelac and water. No more dust!

Once I had it sealed, I closed my eyes and cut the main hatch.

Using the sharped and newest razor blades I owed, I cut what had to have been the straightest line ever. Patting myself on the back, I realized that I cut it in the wrong spot. Oops.

Nothing glue and a little more filler couldn't fix.
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 03:55 PM
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Covering

I spent the next few days prepping the wing for covering. The lines of the plane (especially the tail) were pretty retro, and I wanted the color scheme to follow that retro feel. Looking around, I really liked the lines of the Strega P-51, but thereís no way on this earth that I could cut those curves. Callie Graphics to the rescue! Callie had a Strega decal scheme ready to go, and the sizing was perfect.

This was my first cover job, and I went with Ultracote white and red. Overall, it wasnít too bad, but it definitely could have been better. I promised myself that if I did something that didnít look good, I would tear it off and start over.


Turns out I was lying to myself. After all that work, I was just going to have to live with a few wrinkles.

The wingtips were definitely the hardest, and getting a good curve took multiple attempts.

Finally, I covered the body, which turned out to be a snap.

The decals went on easy (if not completely even...due to operator error), and the look was unreal. How on earth could I attempt to fly such a good looking model??
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Old Jan 07, 2012, 03:59 PM
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Almost finished product!

So here it is. A modified 1974 Top Flite Peacemaker. The only items left to finish are gluing on the canopy, putting magnets into the hatches and finding the right placement for the battery in the main body. The main landing gear also need a little support, so to do this I found some 14 gauge wire that Iíll string across (similar to a cub landing gear configuration).


Initial taxi test proved some other issues that need addressing. About mid throttle, the plane ground loops severely to the left. I havenít spent too much time researching this, but itís either that my motor thrust angle is not enough, or the rudder authority is too little (option number three is pilot error, but thatís unfixable).

So now itís time to man up and see if it flies. To be honest, Iím not sure that I have the stones to do it. Itís a beautiful model, and Iíd hate to see it in Dusty Box number 1!
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Old Jan 12, 2012, 04:48 PM
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I did not see anything in your posts that indicates your level of pilot skill. If this is your first RC plane DONT try to fly it until you get some stick time in others more gentle flyers. Work up to it. If you have been flying RC but not a bird this size/powerful - agian work up to it. THere are lots of cheap ARFs out there to bash around before you take up your new Beauty - and it is a beauty.

Good Luck!
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Old Jan 12, 2012, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl'sbones View Post
I did not see anything in your posts that indicates your level of pilot skill. If this is your first RC plane DONT try to fly it until you get some stick time in others more gentle flyers. Work up to it. If you have been flying RC but not a bird this size/powerful - agian work up to it. THere are lots of cheap ARFs out there to bash around before you take up your new Beauty - and it is a beauty.

Good Luck!
So true.

I guess I'd call myself an intermediate RC pilot. I've got a T-28, a P-51, a T-45 EDF, and a couple of 450 heli's. I'm also a former airline pilot with near 10,000 hours in planes ranging from Alaskan bug smashers to full airliners.

This is the first plane I've built, though....so all of the above goes out the window
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 11:39 AM
Make UAVs, not drones! ;-)
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Any Flights yet? A very cool project!
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abenn View Post
I believe the wings of some control-line models are assymetrical due to the control wires in one wing and the need for more lift on that side to counteract their weight. So, have you checked that each wing is the same span?

Edit: I see that you have checked! But, provided you've "corrected" everything, there's no reason why it shouldn't fly with RC.
Actually, the weight of the leadouts can easily be offset with a little lead in the right tip.

The real reasoning is that the outboard wing panel flies at a faster speed than the inboard panel. To try to create equal lift, the inboard section is larger than the outboard segment.
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Old Jan 21, 2012, 10:00 AM
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Too snowy here to fly anything

We're under 8" of snow and rain right now (plus today's forecast is for 30mph winds), so no flying in the near future.

Still need to reinforce the landing gear and work out the ground loop issue. My fear is that the rudder isn't big enough to overcome the forces of the prop...but we'll see!
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Old Jan 22, 2012, 03:08 PM
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Well done and I command you for that and bringing out the old stuff back to life. Pat yourself on the back, for a job well done and completing your mission. Reminds me, when I was young with my dad, while working on some models that are very familiar with your project.................
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Last edited by XRated; Jan 22, 2012 at 08:51 PM.
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